Case story. Painful memories golf

I've chosen this case story to illustrate a few points. The main one being that we cannot change what has happened, but we can change the way that we feel about it. When we change how we feel often we remember in more detail and new information is revealed to us which allows us to process the memory in a whole new way.

The second is a technique called memory enhancement we literally change memories into how we would like them to have happened in an ideal world and we replace a painful or embarrassing memory with a brand new one. The result is that we feel better about our past which ripples through and we feel better in the present. We are not altering reality though, if we look back at the newly created memory we will always know that it has been enhanced but we can now look back at in time and feel good about it.

The following is a rough transcript of an actual session. Most of it has been written word for word but parts have been edited or omitted for brevity.

Alicia is an intelligent and happy lady in her late 40's. We have been working together for some time evolving emotional scars from the past. She now knows enough about EFT to be able to work through many things on her own. She had begun with a situation that bothered her and by using EFT on her own had remembered an early childhood memory that she felt was at the root of things. She had made progress on feeling somewhat better about the memory but in her words had not been able to resolve it.

We began the session as we always do with general de-stressing to make sure that Alicia is feeling good and ready to proceed.

"Can you tell me about the situation that has been bothering you?"
"I always need to go to the toilet when I'm in a car on a long journey, I don't have any issues any other time but as soon as I'm in a car I need to go, it's really embarrassing and inconvenient."

I now asked Alicia to tell me the story of the early memory that she felt was at the root of this.

"At the age of 3 I was out of nappies, I was advanced and very independent. The first time this happened I had just come out of nappies and was in knickers. One of the things about my dad was that from the age of about 3 he remembers loving the smell of cars. My dad was obsessed with cars. He always had really nice cars, he loved them, tinkered with them all weekend and loved them.

We had been on a journey I don't know where and I had fallen asleep. I had woken up and asked to go to the toilet and my dad said you've got to wait until we get home. It went on and on, I ended up screaming, palms sweating and in the end the inevitable happened. I wet myself and my dad was really angry with me for wetting my pants on his car seat. His beautiful car.

This is a pattern that carried on all my life with my dad. We used to get into such situations, my mum would never say anything and my dad would never listen to me and it would be a real gut wrenching anxious experience. All the way through to my late teems and it set me up with these really weird patterns in my adult life which I have addressed from time to time but would like to completely clear it".

We agreed on a set up of I was 3 years old and had just stopped wearing nappies and we used the term “the aspect” instead of I. We use the aspects model a lot what we are really saying is “the part of me that was 3 years old” and when used instead of “I” allows us to look into a situation as an observer instead of having to get emotionally involved again. For very painful memories this stops the client from having to re-live the pain again and stay detached.

This didn't really bring up any new information so I now wanted Alicia to really hone in on this memory.

I said "I'm going to ask you a series of questions. If you don't know the answer just tell me what you think it may have been, what feels best. It doesn't matter if it's not exactly accurate".

"What time of day was it?"
"Sunset, it was just getting dark so would be about 4.30 5 o'clock"
"What time of year was it?"
"Winter"
"What colour was the car seat?"
"Black"
"What was the weather like?"
"Cold"
"What else can the aspect see?"
"At what stage?"
"Right now as you are looking at the scene, the whole experience. Anything the aspect can see".
"She cant' see a lot, she is anxious she can just see her feet dangling".

We agree to tap on the aspect was anxious.

After this round Alicia said "The aspect is also shocked at her dad, how he is behaving and that he won't listen to her".

She was clearly upset with her dad about this, as we talked about it she had never consciously felt shocked about this before.

"Look at this as a scene from a movie and you are the director of the movie. Because you are the director you can change the scene in any way you want to. What could you give that scene to make things better? Be as creative and wacky as you want to".
"A great big side road with a toilet in it. A nice toilet and her dad stopping, and saying come on lets go to the toilet, none of which ever happened."
"It doesn't matter that it never happened".

We agree to tap on a side road with a toilet on it. As we are tapping Alicia changes it to whatever feels right at the time. And I ask questions to prompt her.

"A side road with a toilet on it."
"A private toilet." (now changes the tapping phrase to a private toilet)
"A brightly lit private toilet"
"How many stalls are there in the toilet?"
"Just one, a nice big one just for me."
"What colour was the door?"
"Pink"
"Is there a was basin in there?"
"Yeah a little one that she can reach into."
"Is it warm in there?"
"Yeah it's nice and toasty."
"Is there a queue?"
"No."

Alicia is beginning to have fun now and is clearly beginning to enjoy herself.

"A brightly lit private toilet with a lovely little winding well lit path to it."
"What colour is the toilet paper?"
"Pink"
"Is it quilted or regular?"
"It was organic." "What is the building made of?"
"It's pink marshmallows and its a girl toilet, just for a girl."
"If she is looking at this pink marshmallow toilet building and turns to the left, what can she see?"
"Just darkness."
"What if she turns all the way around?"
"The brightly lit windy path that leads all the way back to the car."
"How far away is the car?"
"Not far."
"What would make that scene even better than having a pink marshmallow toilet?"
"Nothing, it's great, its a great scene."

"Drop back into the present, how do you feel about that scene now?"
"I feel warm and fuzzy about it, wow, weird, wow that is so cool." "What else does the aspect need?"
"Nothing, that's it. He stopped that's all she needed. She just needed him to listen to her." (Long pause) "And he did."

Alicia now had a big smile on her face and seemed so much more relaxed and open than she had when she arrived.

We talked for a while longer and she told me that her younger brother was in the with them and that they were both adopted. He was a very troubled child and he used to scream all of the time he was in the car, Alicia realised that she didn't used to like to make a fuss as she was scared that she would be sent back and never told her dad that she needed the toilet until the last minute. By then it was too late. She also said that she could now understand why he didn't want to stop, that they would have just wanted to get home to stop her brother crying.

What is interesting here is that even this part of the memory which we have not enhanced now has new information and can be processed in a whole new light. When the memory actually happened Alicia processed it with the thoughts and emotions of a 3 year old girl, now she has the ability to re-asses it with the intelligence and stability of a lady in her 40's, things tend to look very different from that perspective.

Alicia left feeling good and with a visible spring in her step. She has since reported that things are a lot easier for her on long car journeys.